Dating is weird. But confident, self-assured, and conscious dating practices help ease the inherent weirdness (and awkwardness) of getting to know someone new.
But more importantly, these early behaviors help prevent you from falling into a relationship (or situation-ship) with the wrong person, saving you from wasting your time, energy, and care.
You meet a stranger at a restaurant, coffee shop, or bar. You chat for a few hours, then decide if you want to continue seeing this person. If you do, you go on another date. And then maybe a third, fourth, fifth… You get the idea.
It seems so simple, and it has a straightforward goal — to find someone you like and see if they like you too. But in reality, it’s often anything but simple.
There are many reasons why you may feel inclined to:
- act differently than you usually act
- say the “right” things
- hide certain aspects of your life
When it comes to dating, we often feel that the goal is solely to make the other person like us, instead of ensuring they like the REAL us. We may also neglect paying attention to whether we actually like them in return (and not just the idea of them).
Fortunately, implementing conscious dating practices prevents us from falling into these traps and ensures that we’re dating with openness, authenticity, and awareness.
Read on to learn what conscious dating is and five practices to implement right from the start.
What Is Conscious Dating?
Conscious dating is the process of dating with intention, attention, and authenticity. It entails being aware of your motives and being clear about your wants and needs.
It’s also about being present in the moment and genuinely getting to know the person you’re with instead of just coasting on surface-level interactions, or worse, dismissing red flags.
Cause here’s the thing: romantic relationships of any kind can go both ways. They can improve your well-being or have seriously negative outcomes. Conscious dating practices will help you stop wasting time on people who aren’t a good fit, thus help prevent disappointment down the road.
Essentially, it’s a way to date smarter, not harder.
And while that may sound a bit daunting, it doesn’t have to be.
In fact, implementing the following key conscious dating practices will not only make the process easier but more enjoyable as well.
Let’s get started.
1. Get clear on your dating goals and intentions.
The first step in conscious dating is to get clear on your goals and intentions. What do you want to get out of dating? What are your preferences?
Are you looking for a casual fling or hookup? Or are you looking for something more serious and long-term?
Knowing what you want (and don’t want) from dating will save you time, energy, and heartache in the long run. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with any particular type of relationship, but it’s essential to be upfront about your intentions.
Once you’re clear on your dating goals and intentions, make them known. Be upfront and honest with your date from the beginning. This may seem odd or awkward, but it is actually a powerful move that’ll demonstrate how you are confident in your needs and respectful of your own time.
2. Stay true to your authentic self — expose the “crazy.”
There’s a common belief that to do “well” on a date, one must “hide their crazy,” or in other words, present an idealized version of themselves.
This is often done in an attempt to appear more attractive or likable to the other person.
But do you want to be with someone who loves you for who you are, or who you’re pretending to be?
Yeah… the potential for rejection might be higher, and rejection hurts. But early “rejection” is better than long-term incompatibility, frustration, and disappointment down the road.
Be yourself, and if the person is not interested, that’s better to know upfront.
What is your “crazy” anyway?
If you believe that you have aspects of yourself that you’re trying to work on and don’t want to admit those hurdles right away, that’s okay. But eventually, bringing those things up is still a great idea, especially if you’re looking for something more serious.
Though, when I say exposing your “crazy,” I simply mean:
- Being vulnerable and open
- Accepting your quirks and imperfections
- Being upfront about your true opinions, values, and beliefs — however odd or controversial
3. Speak up about how you feel — both good and bad.
Another way in which people often try to hide factors of themselves during the dating stage is by hiding how they feel.
You may feel inclined to hold back:
- How you feel about this person
- Behaviors this person did that upset or annoyed you
- How you’d like the relationship to move forward
- Your sexual needs and desires
But it’s important to remember that the whole point of dating is getting to know someone else — and that means being honest about how we feel, both good and bad.
But if you only share the “agreeable” or “safe” aspects of how you feel, you may end up sabotaging the potential growth of the relationship, ignoring red flags for the sake of staying in the relationship, or both.
Understanding the power of self-advocacy is crucial for navigating relationships at any stage, but it’s helpful not to wait years or even months before you start speaking your truth about various behaviors, situations, feelings, and desires.
4. Create and enforce your boundaries.
To truly be yourself in a relationship, it’s crucial that you feel safe enough to do so. Part of feeling safe is creating and enforcing personal boundaries.
We all have different comfort levels regarding how much we share, how physically close we allow people to be, what words and actions are acceptable, etc.
It’s important to understand on your own boundaries and communicate them to your partner if you want to evaluate the potential for having a high-standard relationship with this person.
If you don’t feel safe enough to be yourself, that’s a big red flag that either the relationship is not right for you or you have some self-work you could do to feel more equipped for the dating world (or both).
5. Align your head, heart, and gut
If you’ve had a crappy relationship in the past, let’s reflect on it for a second. More likely than not, part of why you might’ve stayed longer than you otherwise should have was because your head, heart, and gut weren’t aligned.
Maybe you reasoned to yourself (head) that this person made sense on paper, but you didn’t have passionate feelings about them (heart) or just felt something was off (gut).
Or maybe you loved them deeply (heart), but you knew (in your head) that the relationship wasn’t giving you what you needed.
This head-heart-gut alignment is a bit shaky in the early stages of getting to know someone, because your head might require a certain amount of information about the person, and your heart might require a certain amount of time spent with them.
But if the “head” and “heart“ continue to disagree on whether this person is right for you, then it might be time to make the “gut” choice to move on.
Listening to your intuition (gut feelings).
You’re likely more familiar with making decisions with your head (thoughts) and your heart (emotions), but your intuition, otherwise known as “your gut” is the more mysterious of the three.
Well, you know that feeling you get when you just know something, but you can’t explain how or why? That’s your intuition speaking to you.
When we’re dating, our intuition can often send us warning signs about the person we’re seeing, but we ignore them because we don’t want to believe they could be true, or we make excuses for the person’s behavior.
If something feels off, or if you have a sneaking suspicion that the person is not being honest with you, it’s important to listen to those feelings and take them seriously.
These intuitive check-ins are especially important if you are prone to losing yourself in a relationship.
Conscious Dating: Final Thoughts
At the end of the day, the goal of conscious dating is not only to find a partner but to find a compatible partner, which make these practices especially helpful if you’re looking for someone you can build a life with.
They may seem easy enough in theory, but they can be understandably challenging in practice, especially if you’ve had a history of bad relationships in the past and feel a lot of pressure to “get it right” next time.
However, following these initial guidelines is a great start for clearing away unhelpful dating patterns and leaving room for better opportunities.